University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus



Bulls Notebook: USFSM researcher’s ‘imposter syndrome’ study gains national media attention

University of South Florida: A Preeminent Research University
Bulls Notebook

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 23, 2019)  USF Sarasota-Manatee researcher Lisa Penney, PhD, is attracting attention thanks to Forbes and other publications reporting on her recent study of imposter syndrome, a workplace issue that triggers fatigue, anxiety and the inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Penney, a professor of management in the College of Business, has delved into the topic for years alongside co-researchers Lisa Sublett, assistant professor of industrial-organizational psychology at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and Holly Hutchins, a professor at the University of Houston.

The three last spring presented a paper at the annual conference of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, examining how imposter syndrome, which starts in the workplace, can relate to family and home satisfaction.

Then two weeks ago, the society released an article about the study, touching off a flurry of media reporting in Forbes, the Daily Arizona Independent, Men’s Variety, U.K.-based Stylist and other publications.

Imposter syndrome occurs when employees, usually high performers, start to doubt their abilities, which for some can result in not believing in their own success and tending to overcompensate. The resulting anxiety exacts an emotional toll on employees that can spill over into an unhappy home life.

Penney and her colleagues surveyed 463 workers across the Southern U.S. to produce the study.

Although not a new phenomenon, the issue seems to be resonating in today’s high-stress work environment, where rising expectations and increased competition can cause many employees to doubt their success and feel like they aren’t enough, Penney said.

“I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling of not measuring up to whatever external standards people are holding them up to,” she said.

Penney said she hopes that by recognizing and talking about imposter syndrome, employers and workers will work toward helping employees learn how to disrupt the imposter thoughts that can interfere with their work and home lives.

“It’s exciting to know that this is bringing some attention to an important issue and that, hopefully, this will get people talking about it to bring awareness to it,” she said, referring to the recent media attention.

USFSM, UnidosNow partner on science program

   USFSM biology student Nicole Bill, right, assists a girl from UnidosNow. 
 USFSM biology student Nicole Bill, right, assists a girl from UnidosNow.

 USFSM biology student Nicole Bill, right, assists a girl from UnidosNow.

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee and UnidosNow recently partnered on a two-day science program for girls at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota.

Held last Monday and Friday, the program involved mostly third-, fourth- and fifth-grade girls from schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Although a handful of boys participated, the sessions were designed to inspire girls to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

“This is important because many of these girls are not exposed to science, and their parents do not have information about the kinds of science-based careers that are becoming available,” said Lisbeth Oscuvilca Rodriguez, education director for UnidosNow’s Future Leaders Academy for Girls. “We would like for these girls to have different options for their future, and hopefully, some of these girls today will be inspired to pursue careers in STEM.”

Founded in 2010, UnidosNow’s mission is to elevate the quality of life in the Hispanic/Latino community in Sarasota and Manatee counties through education, integration and civic engagement. Its education initiatives seek to empower students, with support from parents, to successfully pursue higher education.

UnidosNow and USF Sarasota-Manatee have partnered on activities for several years, including college preparatory fairs, financial aid workshops and other events to help Hispanic/Latino students succeed in school and enter college.

During the sessions, the girls focused on microplastics in the environment. They took samples from a beach on City Island and examined them at USFSM’s teaching laboratories at Mote.

Sifting through the items, the children identified tiny plastic shards, which they studied under microscopes. They also inspected their lunches to identify single-use items, like sandwich baggies and soda bottles, which can be dangerous to marine life if discarded in oceans and estuaries.

Having one child pack sandwiches in a reusable container can remove 180 baggies from the waste stream annually, said USFSM Lab Specialist Victoria Ramirez, who helped organize the program. Also helping were Lab Specialist Chelce Shire, several USFSM student volunteers majoring in biology and Edie Banner, PhD, who teaches organic chemistry at USFSM.

In addition to their research, the students toured the Mote aquarium and nearby Save Our Seabirds rehabilitation center and heard from two marine biologists, Breanna DeGroot of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, and Kim Bassos-Hull, who works with the Shark and Ray Conservation Program and Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, both based at Mote.

“This is the best part of my job,” Ramirez said of the event. “I look forward to it every year.”

Mariano research published in Youth & Society journal

New research by Jenni Menon Mariano, PhD, has been recently published in the journal Youth & Society.

Mariano, a professor in the School of Education at USFSM, collaborated with two other researchers, Taylor Damiani, PhD, and Margaret Boyer, PhD candidate, both of the University of California Santa Barbara, to examine the relationship between purpose and the development of character strengths in young people.

Dr. Jenni Menon Mariano

Dr. Jenni Menon Mariano

Her article, “Self- and Other-Reported Virtues of Young Purpose Exemplars,” was published in Youth & Society’s July issue (

Mariano examines how purpose, or long-term aims, can influence positive character development in young people. She and her co-researchers analyzed interviews with eight young people ages 15 to 24 who had been intensely involved in important social causes to determine how that involvement fostered their virtues.

The exemplars were involved in causes such as environmental preservation, promotion of the arts, the support of faith-based initiatives and the promotion of cancer research, among others.

Mariano and the researchers found that the young study participants reported virtues that included wisdom, temperance, transcendence and a sense of curiosity.

“This study is important to show how having purpose and pursuing it is a good thing for the character of young people and for communities,” Mariano said. “But also it’s important because it highlights that pursuing important goals – even noble ones – needs to happen in concert with character development. For instance, we encourage students to do well in school, to achieve and to be successful. On the way there, how are they pursuing those goals? Are they being kind to others? Are they happy and healthy? How can we help them achieve these characteristics? These are the kinds of things this study highlights.”

The analysis was supported by a faculty summer research grant from USFSM’s Office of Research.

Javidi, Sheybani present paper at engineering conference

Kudos to Giti Javidi, PhD, and Ehsan Sheybani, PhD, for their presentation and conference proceeding publication at a recent conference of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). 

Dr. Giti Javidi

Dr. Giti Javidi

Javidi, an associate professor of information technology and cybersecurity, and Sheybani, an associate professor of information systems/decision sciences, discussed their paper, “Design and Development of a Modular K-12 Cybersecurity Curriculum.”

Dr. Ehsan Sheybani

Dr. Ehsan Sheybani

According to the paper’s abstract, the USFSM researchers propose “an integrative model to raise interest among high school students in cybersecurity.” As part of their work, they created several online teaching modules and presented them to 30 high school teachers. The paper discusses the modules and the teachers’ feedback.

Their effort is part of a larger strategy to address a gap in the cybersecurity workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly 210,000 cybersecurity positions went unfilled in 2017.

The ASEE conference occurred June 16-19 at the Tampa Convention Center.

Riley reaches out to kids with cancer

   Jay Riley has supported Happiness is Camping since the 1980s.

Jay Riley, director of business outreach and engagement, is best known at USF Sarasota-Manatee for collaborating with local businesses and groups like the Sarasota and Manatee chambers of commerce, but he also connects in a special and unique way with another group, children diagnosed with cancer.

Riley is a longtime supporter of Happiness is Camping, a Hardwick Township, N. J.,-based organization that promotes a month-long summer camping trip for kids with cancer. The group hosts dozens of children yearly at its camp site, which includes cabins, a lake, a recreation center, a pool and scores of activities from canoeing to soccer and beach volleyball. 

“It’s a place where kids with cancer can be kids again and have fun,” said Riley, who has supported the program for decades.

Riley knows a thing or two about pediatric cancer, having overcome childhood leukemia. Riley went to Happiness is Camping – on the Delaware Water Gap 65 miles northwest of New York City – as a 12 year old in 1984, then returned two more times as a teen. He’s supported programs there ever since.

ay Riley has supported Happiness is Camping since the 1980s.

Jay Riley has supported Happiness is Camping since the 1980s.

“The experience taught me to be positive and allowed me to connect with other kids going through the same thing I was going through, and it helped me to build lasting friendships,” Riley said.

Last week, he communicated with campers via Skype, telling a group of teens about college and life at USF Sarasota-Manatee, in particular.

He told the teens that small colleges like USFSM can be great places to connect with professors and fellow students, and that small classroom sizes can help students to flourish. He also urged the teens to plan for college and stay focused once they enter college to graduate within four years. Also important, he said, is to work closely with their student advisors and get involved in campus activities.

“I told them they’ve been through a lot and I know it’s tough, but they have an advantage, and that advantage is that they have an appreciation for life, that they know the importance of overcoming challenges better than most kids their age,” he said. “That’s important, and it’s important for them to understand that what they’ve been through can make them stronger as they move forward as adults.”

To learn more about Happiness is Camping, visit

‘Future Bulls Boot Camp’ set for Saturday

USFSM Campus

USFSM is inviting prospective students to tour the campus and learn about USFSM.

USFSM is inviting prospective students to tour the campus and learn about USFSM.

USF Sarasota-Manatee on Saturday will hold a “Future Bulls Boot Camp” for rising high school juniors and seniors to learn about the college application process.

The free and informative event is set for from 9 a.m. to noon at the campus’ Selby Auditorium, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Choosing the right college can be trying. The Future Bulls Boot Camp seeks to eliminate the stress and streamline the process. Attendees can learn about admissions to college, including to USF and USFSM, tour the USFSM campus, and learn about scholarships and other financial aid that can make college a more affordable option.

“The Future Bulls Boot Camp is geared toward prospective juniors and seniors in high school, as well as their families, to help them get a head start on the college experience,” Admissions Counselor Sean Grosso said. “Students will get an insider’s perspective on the admissions process, financial aid, selecting a major and student life. Students also will have the option of attending a mini ACT/SAT workshop that will provide important insights into test-taking strategies.”

To register for the Future Bulls Boot Camp, visit, USFSM.EDU/BOOTCAMP.

Kosten, Turnbull complete Quality Matters Course Review

Congratulations to Lora Kosten, PhD, and Brian Turnbull, PhD, for successfully completing E-Learning Services’ Internal Quality Matters Course

Dr. Brian Turnbull

Dr. Brian Turnbull

Review for their online courses.

Dr. Lora Kosten

Enter Caption here.

Kosten, a level three instructor in the School of Education, teaches the online course “Ethics and Power in Leadership” (LDR4204). Turnbull, who recently joined the faculty at the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, teaches “Introduction to Comparative Politics” (CPO2002).

The Internal Quality Matters Course Review is a rigorous process designed to certify quality and alignment through the Quality Matters rubric of best practices in online learning.

Instructors who successfully complete the Internal Quality Matters Review can include the USFSM Quality logo on the front page of their online course description and will be acknowledged for their achievements in quality in the Florida Virtual Campus course directory.

To learn more about Quality Matters, contact E-Learning Services or attend an upcoming workshop.

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